He’s a titan of industry, a paragon of philanthropy and a proud Red River College graduate.
So naturally, the College is just as proud to congratulate Paul Charette on receiving this year’s Honorary Degree — a distinction that comes exactly 50 years after he first graduated from RRC.
“We are thrilled to present Paul with an honorary degree and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his graduation from Red River College,” says RRC President Paul Vogt (shown above, at right, with Charette and wife Gerri).
“We are very fortunate to have graduates like Paul, who share their vision and support and are constant ambassadors for RRC across the country. Paul’s generosity and enthusiasm for our College, as well as his commitment to providing opportunities for our graduates, is essential to what we are building at RRC.”
The former CEO of Bird Construction, Charette graduated from RRC’s Civil Technology program back in 1967 (after receiving a $200 bursary from the Women’s Auxiliary of West Kildonan).
He added to his credentials with a Computer Programming degree in 1968, then worked for nine years with Manitoba Hydro on the development of the Nelson River and Manitoba Rolling Mills expansion projects.
In 1976, Charette began working for Bird Construction — first as a project coordinator, then as chief operating officer (1988), chief executive office (1991), and chair of the board (2001). During that time, he led the company through a period of substantial growth, increasing revenues from $90 million in 1988 to more than $1 billion in 2008, when he stepped down as CEO.
The Charettes are RRC’s most prominent individual donors, having over the years established two award endowments — which fund 12 student awards each year — and the Paul and Gerri Charette Manitoba Applied Research Chair in Sustainable Construction. Read More →
James Gibson knows the value of hands-on education.
For one, the vice-principal of Steinbach Regional Secondary School sees his students learning by doing every day – whether they’re chiseling timber frames, installing electrical outlets or painting vehicles in some the school’s 10 vocational areas.
But Gibson (shown above, at centre) also understands how crucial it is for some students to get out from behind their desks – because he was once one of those students himself.
“I’m not a big ‘in the regular classroom’ kind of guy,” says the Red River College graduate. “I like to be up and moving around and doing things with my hands.”
RRC’s Teacher Education program allowed Gibson to do just that. Specializing in Industrial Arts, he was able to expand his knowledge and experience in woodworking and welding, among other areas. Along with the Industrial Arts diploma he received from RRC in 2004, he earned a Bachelor of Education from the University of Winnipeg in 2005, thanks to a joint program between the schools.
“The program gives you the confidence to be able to take something apart and fix it and not be scared about it anymore,” says Gibson, who was born in England and moved to Winnipeg at the age of 13.
After teaching Industrial Arts in Elie, Man., for a couple of years, he moved to Steinbach in 2007 to teach junior high. He later took at position at SRSS teaching carpentry, and more recently stepped into the administrative role of vice-principal.
Even though he’s behind a desk more often than not, Gibson can rest assured the school’s vocational students are receiving top-notch training. That’s because a majority of the hands-on instructors at SRSS are Teacher Education grads, just like him. Read More →
A Red River College grad who’s now completing a joint honours degree at the University of Winnipeg is the inaugural winner of that institution’s Disability Studies scholarship.
Evan Wicklund, who completed RRC’s Disability and Community Support program in 2013, is now in his final year of study in UWinnipeg’s Disability Studies program. He’ll be the first student to complete the program with an honour’s degree.
Having explored several sub-sectors of the disability field over the years, Wicklund believes the critical engagement made possible by the joint program is key to understanding alternatives to disability as a bio-medical phenomenon.
“If we contextualize ‘disability’ through rights, social constructionist, or intersectional frameworks, we will be afforded the opportunity to think about disability in new and imaginative ways,” he told UWinnipeg.
“As someone engaged with community organizations as well as the academy, I advocate for disability studies because it acknowledges the value of critical thinking and reflexivity, while maintaining the fundamental values of diversity and human rights.”
Wicklund presented his work at the International Initiative on Disability Leadership Conference in Vancouver in 2015, and has a paper accepted at this spring’s annual meeting of the Canadian Disability Studies Association.
He also works as a special projects officer for the Canadian Centre for Disability Studies, having been hired there after completing his work practicum.
UWinnipeg’s new award was established to recognize students who demonstrate academic excellence and community involvement. The Disability Studies program was established in partnership with RRC in 2010, prior to which there was no way to proceed from RRC’s diploma program to UWinnipeg’s degree.
— Naniece Ibrahim, University of Winnipeg
Red River College launches its 2017 billboard campaign this week – marking the return of the highly anticipated public celebration of RRC grads and their diverse employers.
“Red River College is pleased to once again join forces with leading Manitoba businesses to showcase elite alumni who are working in industry and in the community across the province,” says RRC President Paul Vogt. “This creative, co-operative marketing campaign is about recognizing strategic partnerships and celebrating student success.”
Appearing this spring and summer on nearly 60 billboards throughout Winnipeg and rural Manitoba, the 2017 campaign features 40 members from RRC’s diverse alumni community.
“It is wonderful to partner with Red River College and to help showcase the fact that RRC grads get jobs in their fields and are leaders in our community,” says Darrell Brown, founder and president of KISIK Inc., an Indigenous-owned and operated provider of office furniture.
“I think it’s important that we continue to reach out to young people, particularly Indigenous youth, to ensure they know about the tremendous opportunities that come from an RRC education. College education is a key pathway to success and I’d encourage all young Manitobans to take a close look at what RRC has to offer.”
The last iteration of the campaign, which rolled out in 2015 and 2016, has won several national and international awards including a CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) Circle of Excellence Award (Best Advertising Campaign: Silver), an International Signature Award (Best Practices in Communications and Marketing: Bronze, and the 2016 Communicator of the Year Award (Large Category) from the Canadian Public Relations Society of Manitoba. Read More →
A longtime member of Red River College’s instructional staff has been honoured with a lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Culinary Federation of Cooks and Chefs (CCFCC).
Chef Karl Oman, an instructor at RRC since 2006, has been an active member of the CCFCC since 1991, and has acted as the Winnipeg branch treasurer since 2012.
The organization’s award recognizes Oman’s track record of excellence and service to the culinary profession, via a career that began immediately after he graduated with honours from RRC’s Culinary Arts (then Chef Training) program in 1985.
Oman (shown above, with students) went on to work for size years as part of the kitchen team that opened the Sheraton Winnipeg Hotel, working his way from the garde manger area to sous chef.
In 1991, he accepted his first executive chef position with the Holiday Inn Winnipeg South, where he served for 15 years. During that time, he completed his Red Seal certification, and in 1995, went on to complete his chef de cuisine certification. (At the time, he was one of only 17 chefs in Manitoba to do so.)
In 1994, Oman was named Chef of the Year by the local CCFCC branch, and two years later, was invited by the provincial trades advisory committee to participate in the revision of the interprovincial Red Seal exam.
A Red River College chef was among the coterie of culinary VIPs who marked International Women’s Day by serving up a showcase of their considerable talents.
Claire Snowball (shown at left), a banquet and event sous-chef for RRC’s Food Services, was one of 11 local chefs who prepared gourmet appetizers for a “Women. Wine. Food!” event held March 8 at the Qualico Family Centre.
The event — which served as a fundraiser for the Women’s Health Clinic (WHC) in Winnipeg — was cooked up by RRC alum Kelly Cattani (Culinary Arts, 2005), now a chef at the Hilton Winnipeg Airport Suites.
Working together with Janet Hamel, Director of Development at WHC, Cattani coordinated both the event and its all-woman line-up as a means of benefiting the community-based Clinic, which has supported women through health services, education and advocacy since 1981.
A fellow Culinary Arts grad (2011), Snowball prepared two dishes for the evening: a Dungeness crab encased en gelée and chawanmushi tartlet, and a sour cherry and dark chocolate mousse cup with bourbon whipped cream, milk crumble and raspberry dust.
“The event was a roaring success, selling out early and packing the Qualico Centre with a great crowd,” says Snowball. “It was with pride that I was able to represent Red River College, which celebrates diversity in the workforce and identifies inclusiveness as one of its core values.”
Snowball and Cattani weren’t the only RRC grads involved in the event. The lineup of chefs also included Melissa Makarenko (Resto Gare and Train Bar), Kristel Pastorin (The Grove Pub & Restaurant), Heather Porteous (Boulevard Pub & Bistro), Rachel Isaak (Loaf and Honey, Sam’s Place); Tara Podaima (Segovia Tapas Bar); and Candace Hughes (Qualico Family Centre).
Congratulations to the most recent recipients of Red River College’s Lieutenant-Governor’s Medals for Proficiency, who’ll receive their awards as part of our 2017 Winter Convocation ceremonies on Feb. 6 and 8.
Each year, a maximum of four Lt.-Gov’s Medals are awarded to RRC students who best combine good character, academic and technical achievement, and involvement in College and/or community activities. This year’s winners are:
Joel Stevens — A proud graduate of RRC’s Electrical Engineering Technology program, Joel was drawn to this career path because he was determined to build a profession that was both challenging and exciting.
Joel demonstrated outstanding academic performance throughout his time at Red River College, earning a 4.5 GPA. He attributes this achievement to great time management skills and determination, as he was also renovating his home, planning a wedding, volunteering and working part-time while completing the program.
Joel is currently employed by ERLPhase Power Technologies as a Verification Specialist, a job he found less than a month after graduating. He’s responsible for testing relays and fault recorders, developing test procedures and providing technical support to customer service staff. He will now work towards acquiring his Certified Engineering Technologist designation.
When not at work or in school, Joel enjoys spending time with his wife and family – especially his five nephews. He loves to read books about history and theology and is very involved in his church community. He also loves sports and spends much of his free time playing soccer and long distance running.
Charlene Turcotte — A graduate of RRC’s Technical Vocational Teacher Education program, Charlene entered the program as a passionate hairstylist and enrolled so that she could teach others to fall in love with her industry the way she did.
Making the decision to go back to school full-time was not an easy one, but after meeting her instructors and fellow students, she was encouraged to fulfill her goal.
Currently, Charlene is attending the University of Winnipeg to upgrade her Bachelor of Education. She also works as a part-time hairstylist and has started substitute teaching in the River East Trancosa School Division.
When not at work or in school, Charlene spends as much time with her family as she can. With three kids, she has a busy extra-curricular schedule and spends most of her time cheering on her kids at the local hockey rink.
Charlene takes pride in her community and volunteers on many boards, helping out at her local community club and volunteering at the high school where she performed her practicum. She is also the secretary of the Vocational Teachers Association of Manitoba.
After a successful career as a teacher, Willa Klyne decided it was time to go back to school.
Last June, Klyne, 55, wrapped up 29 years of teaching in Frontier School Division. Not really the retiring type, she enrolled in Red River College’s Administrative Assistant program, completing the 17-week certificate program in December.
“I want to work for a very long time. My mom worked part-time until she was 75 years old and I see myself doing the same thing,” Klyne says.
“I’d like to have two or three careers in my lifetime. My plan is to work full-time until I’m 65 and then I’ll decide if I want to continue … or go down to part-time. But I don’t want my working career to be one thing. I can’t imagine sticking with one type of job for my entire lifetime. There are new things to learn and new experiences to have.”
Klyne admits she was a bit nervous about attending college at 55, but she’s not the first in her family to go back to school later in life. In the 1970s, Klyne’s grandmother, Violet McKillop, took a commercial cake decorating course at RRC while in her 70s.
“I would never let it stop me (being an older student), but I wondered how it would be. It turned out to be great. There were way more older students there than I thought there would be,” Klyne says. Read More →
It’s safe to say Silas Meeches has turned out to be a good investment.
With the help of several donor-supported awards and bursaries from Red River College, Meeches, 20, graduated with his Manufacturing Technician diploma in May 2016. Now, he’s busy prepping for the 2017 World Skills Competition in Abu Dhabi, an event he describes as “the Olympics for trades and technology [students].”
Meeches first qualified for the event in June 2016 when he won a silver medal (in CNC Machining) at the Skills Canada National Competition in New Brunswick. Before nationals, he won gold in the Skills Manitoba Competition hosted at RRC.
Originally enrolled in the College’s Precision Metal Machining certificate program, Meeches didn’t feel it was a good fit for his skill set. He credits Manufacturing Technician co-ordinator Rob Ataman for pointing him to a program where he could thrive.
“From what I’ve heard [Rob] has always been a big help to students, and I was no exception,” says Meeches. “[There was] a lot of pushing in the right direction. I’d say ‘I don’t know if I can do this,’ and he’d say, ‘I know you can.’” Read More →
Cindy Petrowski’s enthusiasm for education took root at Red River College in the early 1980s. Today, she and her partner are giving back in the form of a newly created endowment fund: The Cindy Petrowski and Phillip Marsh Helping Hands Bursary.
In honour of their Metis family members, the bursary will support First Nations or Metis students with their academic aspirations and help with financial burdens.
Speaking from her home in Victoria, B.C., the RRC graduate, who now spends most of her time with family and her dog, or volunteering for various non-profits, fondly recalls her time at the College.
Petrowski chose RRC because of its reputation then — as now — as a post-secondary institution that offered instruction in current and high-demand skills recognized and required by employers.
She enrolled in the stenography program at a time when computers were just emerging in office environments. “I felt the course offered me an opportunity to learn office skills, and to try my hand at technology,” she remembers. Read More →